Yankees-Athletics Preview

JEFF BARTL (STATS Writer)
The Associated PressJuly 19, 2012

The New York Yankees have surged to a sizable lead in the AL East as their offense continues to click.

Their dominance of the Oakland Athletics on the road in recent years should give them every reason to believe they'll keep rolling this weekend.

New York seeks its 10th straight victory in Oakland in the opener of a four-game series Thursday night.

The Yankees (57-34) have been winning lately regardless of venue to take control of the division, picking up their ninth win in 11 games with a rain-shortened 6-0 victory over Toronto on Wednesday to complete a three-game sweep.

Mark Teixeira hit a two-run homer in a four-run first inning for New York, which outscored the Blue Jays 18-4 in the series. The Yankees are hitting .303 with 21 home runs in their last 11 games, scoring at least five runs in each of the last 10.

"We've swung the bats well the last couple of weeks. I mean really, really well," manager Joe Girardi said. "It hasn't been one or two guys doing all the work. You've gotten contributions from so many different people in this lineup. It makes it difficult to get through this lineup and I think it wears on pitchers."

New York was 21-21 on May 21, but has since gone 36-13 - including a three-game sweep in Oakland from May 25-27. It has won nine straight road meetings with the Athletics by a 51-14 margin, also taking 29 of the last 35 overall matchups.

Teixeira, who has six homers and 19 RBIs in 13 July games, went 8 for 14 with three homers and eight RBIs against the A's in May.

New York will send Freddy Garcia to the mound Thursday as it seeks to win 10 straight road games over a single opponent for the first time since 2005-07 versus Texas.

Garcia (4-2, 5.25 ERA) will be making his fourth straight start after pitching exclusively out of the bullpen in May and June. He's filling in for Andy Pettitte (broken leg) in the rotation.

The right-hander is 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA over his last three outings, but he gave up three runs, walked five and threw 98 pitches in five innings of Saturday's 5-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels.

Garcia is 4-3 with a 4.14 ERA in 10 lifetime starts in Oakland, allowing three runs in seven innings of a 10-3 victory in his last outing there May 31, 2011.

He'll face an A's team that has won 10 of 12, beating Texas 4-3 on Wednesday. Josh Reddick hit a game-tying two-run double in the seventh inning before Brandon Hicks led off the ninth with his first major league homer.

Oakland (47-44) leads the majors with nine walk-off wins.

"Everyone calls us scrappy," Wednesday's starting pitcher Travis Blackley said. "Don't sleep on us. All 27 outs, we're going to keep coming."

The A's will turn to A.J. Griffin on Thursday as they shift their focus to ending their home skid against the Yankees.

Griffin (1-0, 2.63) picked up his first major league victory after allowing three runs in six innings of a 6-3 win at Minnesota on Friday. The rookie has pitched six innings in each of his four starts, with opponents hitting .195 against him.

The A's have won both of the right-hander's home starts as part of a 7-2 stretch at O.co Coliseum.